1897 ad, showing unskirted garment for women's bicycle riding


Bicycles have been around since the 16th century. Once the automobile became “preferred transportation,” bicycles were looked upon as toys for children. At the present a trend is emerging, bicycles are regaining popularity.

In fact, around the globe bicycles are gaining popularity. A headline from the Moreland News read, “Bikes have outsold cars by more than two million in the past decade, figures released by Australia’s Cycling Promotion Fund show.” Evidently, the residents of Moreland Australia are not only commuting while saving money on gas but also having fun bicycling.

The Daily Prime News reported on a bicycle manufacturer in Taiwan, “Taiwan’s assembled-bicycle exports in 2010 exceeded five million units, up 17% from 2009, generating export value of about US$1.35 billion. “ With reports such as this, there is no doubt bicycling is gaining global popularity.

Bicycle Share Programs

Here in the United States the upward trend of bicycling is clear. Across the nation, new intercity bike sharing programs are emerging.  The Twin Cities have a new public bike-sharing network called Nice Ride. Nice Ride and Washington D.C’s Capital Bikeshare are two of the earliest public bike sharing systems in the United States. Most of these are public works projects however, non-profits seem to be embracing this biking service as well.

Boulder Colorado is following suit. The Boulder County Business Report stated in an article on January 17, “New bike-sharing program Boulder B-cycle received a $25,000 donation from the Google Community Grants Fund at the Tides Foundation.”  The non-profit company will feature bikes, stations, and prices similar to Denver’s version. Denver was among the first cities to institute this type of program according to Westword Blogs.

Another motivating aspect of bicycle sharing, also from Boulder, is the Pedal to Properties Company. According to bicyclerretail.com, “Matt Kolb formed the company in the wake of a financial loss. In early 2006, Kolb worked for another real estate firm. After showing a prospective buyer a $1.5 million home from which he walked away, Kolb learned that the gentleman went back to his hotel and took a cruiser bike back through the neighborhood to get to a restaurant.” While Kolb lost the sale, he gained an idea that resulted in a new and innovative real estate company.

“What Pedal to Properties does—encouraging home buyers to learn about homes and neighborhoods from a bicycle—is innovative and something we fully support.” Bruno Maier a bike shop vice president. The company is now building bikes in addition to presenting franchise opportunities across the country.

Women & Bicycling

Women have taken the lead in urban commuting and this comes as no surprise to me. Women assume the lead role in numerous lifestyle, business, and political positions these days. Rob Forbes, founder of PUBLIC, a San Francisco-based bike and gear company claims record numbers of women have hit the urban streets riding. “I see this trend everyday at PUBLIC, the company I launched earlier this spring. The majority of our customers are women. This defies industry averages, where eighty percent of bicyclists are male.” Logical reasons for the increase in urban women cruisers are attributed to safer streets, commuting cost savings, and public spaces are more accessible for bicyclists.

woman bicycling

Image: Rob Forbes

By nature, women are more interested in style than speed. Women ride the urban neighborhood in dresses, pump shoes, beautiful hats, and all types of professional and casual attire. Besides, the men can not deny enjoying how our attire enhances the urban backdrop, nor should we discount the compliment. Thanks guys!

Forbes also noted an interesting comparison, “The rise in women bicyclists parallels the growth in yoga in the U.S. Both yoga and bicycling are stress-reducing activities that simply make people feel better.” Improving ones health may be the biggest reason women have embraced urban biking. The most obvious heath benefits include weightless, lowers cholesterol, reduces the risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, osteoporosis, and possibly certain cancers.

Whether improved health, economics, or enjoyment is the motivation, bicycling definitely is on the rise.